As the county and state officials dedicated to administering elections, one might have been surprised to hear discussions between Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Scotland County Clerk Batina Dodge as they discussed the state’s presidential primary during Ashcroft’s recent stop in Memphis.
The Secretary of State met with Scotland County Commissioners Duane Ebeling and Danette Clatt, along with Dodge as part of the state official’s tour of northeast Missouri on Thursday, July 25th.
Ashcroft and Dodge engaged in discussions related to the state’s presidential primary election and the Secretary of state’s position of the possibility of eliminating the costly endeavor.
“We aren’t talking about taking away the right to vote from anyone, as any resident would still be able to attend the local caucuses in their county and help select their party’s candidate,” said Ashcroft.
Ashcroft and Dodge discussed the potential savings for the state, as presidential primaries cost an average of $7 million to $10 million a year.
Dodge noted that the cost is extremely high based on traditionally low voter turnout, particularly in light of the fact that the results simply highlight the state’s presidential preference, while the county caucuses actually determine which candidates make it on the ballot.
Ashcroft indicated he hoped to approach Governor Mike Parsons to consider proposing a special legislative session to consider the idea prior to the 2020 presidential primary. He added there is potential to address lawmakers directly during the regularly scheduled veto session in September.
“When you consider how much money is spent per vote for an election that truly doesn’t decide anything, it seems like there must be far better ways for our state to spend the money,” said Dodge.
Ashcroft and Dodge also discussed the short turnaround time between elections, which often causes confusion for absentee voters not to mention the workload the primary adds on local election officials.
The Secretary of State has been discussing the pros and cons of his proposal with county election officials across the state during a number of visits being made this summer.